A match made in library heaven

Meticulous approach to shelf work makes Jason Collins a beloved fixture at Saukville facility

OSCAR GRADY PUBLIC LIBRARY page and shelver Jason Collins was recently honored as a five-year Village of Saukville employee, earning high marks from his co-workers. Shown with him are (left) Maureen Masty of Portal Inc. and Library Director Jen Gerber. Photo by Sam Arendt
Ozaukee Press Staff

Jason Collins is meticulous. 

And the best job he has ever had is the one he holds now as a page and shelver at the Oscar Grady Public Library in Saukville.

“I can be as meticulous as I want to be,” Collins said this week, explaining why he likes his job so much.

Collins’ job entails shelving books according to the Dewey Decimal Classification system, which dates back to the 1870s and assigns each book a number based on its subject area. 

The number dictates the exact placement of a book on the shelves.

“Each and every book only has one correct place on the shelf,” Library Director Jen Gerber said at a recent village recognition dinner, where Collins was honored as a five-year village employee. 

If a book is put in the wrong spot, “it can be lost forever,” Gerber said.

“It takes a very detailed person to do this position well,” she said. “(Collins) maintains our bookshelves with accuracy and integrity.”

For Collins, the library shelves are like a giant jigsaw puzzle where each book is like a piece with its own unique spot.

“It’s fun working here,” Collins said.

He takes the job very seriously but also appreciates the job’s “fringe benefits.”

“Free DVDs,” he laughed.

But the best fringe benefit, he said, are the friendships he has made at the library.

Collins’ dedication and sense of humor have endeared him to his co-workers.

“It’s always a good day when Jason walks in the door,” Library Assistant Martin Morante said. “It can get pretty hectic here, but when Jason arrives he always has a smile and things just seem to slow down a little bit and become a little less hectic.”

Collins was hired by Gerber five years ago through Portal Inc. in Grafton, which helps place disabled adults and youths with local businesses.

“When I was interviewing him initially, I told him the job can be intimidating because there is only one exact place for that book,” she said. “You could see he was excited about that.”

Maureen Masty, an employment consultant at Portal, is Collins’ job coach and helped place him with the library.

Masty said Portal always works to find good matches for their clients, but she called Collins’ placement at the library and his connection with Gerber and the staff a special one.

“This is just a match made in heaven,” Masty said. “It  says a great deal about the staff here.”

Collins was born in Saginaw, Mich., and moved to Port Washington in 2013. He graduated from Milwaukee Lutheran High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communications and theology from Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon. 

While there, he worked in the university library.

Collins loves baseball and still roots for the Detroit Tigers as well as the Milwaukee Brewers.    

He also paints and draws, often sharing his work with library staff, and competes in the Special Olympics, having won several blue ribbons.

Collins loves music – “anything but rap,” he said — and on weekends can often be found dancing at the Howard J. Schroeder Legion Hall in Mequon.    

At a village recognition dinner two years ago, when things got a little too quiet, Collins put his phone at the center of the table where the library staff was sitting and played a song by Journey.

The whole room was soon singing, “Don’t Stop Believing.”

“It was awesome,” he said.



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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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Port Washington, WI 53074
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